Cast Iron

Gaddina Limuni Sicilianu (Sicilian Lemon Chicken)

May 30, 2016
Photo by Jess Lewis
Author Notes

This farmhouse dish is a nod to my Sicilian heritage and the small farming village where my Grandmother grew up. From my visits when I was a little girl, I remember tons of fruit and olive trees, roaming chickens, and air wonderfully pungent with the scent of the Mediterranean. Olives, Sicilian lemons, and oregano are all quite prominent in this chicken recipe making it a perfect light, yet hardy, spring time dish. I recommend serving it with a shaved fennel salad and a nice dry rosé. —Jess Lewis

  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • For the marinade
  • 1/2 cup Sicilian olives (pitted)
  • 2 tablespoons olive brine
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the main dish
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 3 pounds small potatoes (I like to mix both white and baby red)
  • 2 medium sweet onions (Walla Walla or Maui are best)
  • 8 pieces bone-in chicken thighs with skin
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup Sicilian olives (pitted)
  • 1/4 cup olive brine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Purée all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor or small blender until they become a soft paste. You’re looking for the consistency of a thick dressing so add a little more olive oil if it’s too thick.
  3. Coat chicken pieces with marinade in a shallow dish and cover. Liberally season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate and let marinate 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Add remaining olive oil, oregano, and garlic to a large roasting pan or dutch oven.
  5. Halve onions and slice them into 1/4” slices. Quarter potatoes. Add onions and potatoes to the roasting pan and toss well to coat with the olive oil and oregano.
  6. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  7. Slice remaining 2 lemons into 1/8” rounds and add to the top of the potato and onion mixture.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes until the potatoes start to brown around the edges.
  9. Approximately 10 minutes before the potato mixture is ready to come out of the oven, drizzle a cast iron skillet with olive oil and bring to a medium to high heat. If a small drop of water added to the pan sizzles, it’s ready. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, onto the skillet and brown until the skins are crispy (about 5 minutes). This will seal in the juices and create a very nice flavor so don’t skip this step! Trust me, it’s worth it.
  10. Remove roasting pan with the potato mixture from the oven and add remaining olives, brine, water, and the seared chicken (skin side up).
  11. Roast for another 30-45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the largest part of the breast reads 165°F.
  12. Plate and serve immediately.
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